Tuesday brought my fourth day in Munich and at this point I was navigating around like a pro. Okay, fine, the morning started off a little unsteadily as there were moments of walking around in circles trying to figure out which way I was heading (not sure why we’re on iOS 8 and the blue dot in Maps is still not an arrow) but I found my bearings and headed towards Marienplatz, Munich’s city center. Dating back to the 12th century, Marienplatz is the heart of Munich and used to be home to medieval markets, celebrations, and tournaments.
At 11:00 am and noon, tourists gather to take in the Rathaus-Glockenspiel in the magnificent, neo-gothic Neues Rathaus (New Town Hall), replete with gargoyles, statutes, and a dragon scaling the turrets. The Munich Glockenspiel recounts a royal wedding and a jousting tournament on the top level, and a ritualistic Barrel Makers’ dance on the lower level, while different melodies play on the clock’s 43 bells. Lasting about 15 minutes, the show concludes with the golden bird up the top emerging and chirping three times. I came out of the station just in time to catch the delightful display.
It was apparent as soon as I landed in Munich that there are probably a total of, I don't know, 20 Asians in Munich. Despite Munich being Europe’s top technology hub and containing the second largest number of publishing houses in the world outside of New York, there is surprisingly very little diversity in this city. Looking back now, I’m realizing there were actually no black people either. I received a lot of stares when I was out and about but living in one of the most, if not most, racist countries in the world (Murica!), I wasn’t too fazed. Marienplatz, however, was full of tourists from most likely every continent and huge crowds of people filled the entire square chattering in numerous foreign languages. It was fascinating to see so many people gathered together from all over the world to admire the massive cathedral-like tower and architecture of Neues Rathaus. (This thing is so colassal it's virtually impossible to get a picture of it without using a drone.)
I spent the day getting lost in the streets, observing people enjoying meals outside, walking in and out of churches, and doing some shopping. Munich is an expensive city but as the Dollar/Euro exchange rate is very favorable right now (about $1 to 1€), I didn’t have to deal with the additional stress of calculating the exchange rate every time I purchased something. Americans say the Euro is weak, Europeans say the Dollar is strong — either way, Europe is on sale right now and I’m glad I was able to take advantage.
The weather had been rainy, cloudy, and cool since I landed so I was delighted to have a gorgeous sunny day with a temperature of 83 degrees. After grabbing a smoothie, I made my way over towards Viktualienmarkt (victuals market) to explore the market stalls. The market boats 140 stalls and shops offering flowers and plants, fruits and vegetables, meat, herbs, spices, delicatessens, wine and tea, and more. There are butcher shops, open-air cheese and produce stands, beer halls, and plenty of places to sit, eat, and drink.
That’s one of my favorite things about Munich and Europe, for that matter — al fresco dining. There are always people sitting out and about, sharing a meal and a drink, and catching up while taking in their surroundings. In Munich, I love how there is never a rush to get the check but everyone takes the time to enjoy the beautiful weather, delicious food, cold beers, and each other's company under the cool shade of giant trees. It's evident that Munichs (a term I coined for people who live in Munich) appreciate the pleasures of a slower pace of life that is filled with good food, good friends, and good times, and it's definitely a practice I want to incorporate into my own life.